Development of Bearsted Cricket Club

Over the best part of the last decade, Bearsted Cricket Club has gone through a tremendous period of growth, in not only the number of teams and players, but also in its commitment to the local community.

 

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Cricket has recently struggled at the grassroots level, but with the help of some key figures behind the scenes, the future of cricket looks bright on the Green with around 100 regular junior cricketers flying the Bearsted banner.

 

It wasn’t too long ago that the club struggled to field two full sides on a Saturday and a full 11 on a Sunday to fulfil league commitments, however starting this season, the club now boasts a full fixture card for three sides on a Saturday, two league sides and a friendly ‘third eleven’ and is on the verge of considering two teams on a Sunday. The club also runs a full junior section with training and teams from U7’s to U15’s; and two years ago, introduced what has quickly become a very successful women’s section, with two full ladies’ squads.

 

This year, the ladies will be entering their first formal season, as well as taking part in some hardball and softball competitions for the first time, both away and on the Green.

 

The Club’s Committee has recently introduced a ladies’ captain dedicated to looking after the ladies side of things, and holding a full position on the club committee alongside the club captain and other senior men’s team captains; The Lady Bears are also being supported brilliantly by ex-Kent and England ladies Cricketer, Jo Watts.

 

This period of growth has amalgamated into success across the board for the village club, with senior men’s side making it to the top echelons of senior cricket within Kent Villages on both Saturday and Sunday.

 

The Saturday first eleven now plays in Division 1 of the Kent County Village League and, after promotion in 2022, the Sunday first eleven has joined them at the top, playing in Division 1 of the Kent Village Sunday League.

 

The success isn’t just reserved for the adults either, after a period of decline, roughly 7 years ago, the junior side of the club was reinvigorated and it’s wonderful to see the growth, in not only numbers, but the quality of cricket played on the Green by our local youngsters – offering safe access to cricket, in an amazing location, and a clear pathway to the senior game.

 

This investment in the youth side of the club is paying off. In 2022, the U15’s had an incredible season winning their Weald of Kent League, but then narrowly missing out in a single “play-off” game. They will once again take on the challenge with open arms in 2023 but with an older, even more developed team, a large proportion of whom are now playing regularly in the adult sides.

 

The U11’s and U13’s have also benefited from a full season of hardball league cricket and, with more experienced and match aware squads, are very much looking forward to a good season.

 

With over 50 children joining us on the Green for Sunday morning U9 training at the start of last season, 2022 saw the start of our U7 section. This age group is now flourishing but is always open to new players in school years 1 and 2. After the split, the U9’s also benefited, and stormed many of the softball Kent tournaments. They have an exciting year ahead before several of the older group move into the U11’s, and to support this transition a number of these youngsters will form the core of the U11 development league squad in 2023 as a pathway into full hardball in 2024.

 

The club, who pride themselves of their inclusivity and providing accessible cricket to anyone who wants to get involved, are always looking for boys and girls to join its junior and senior sections; as well as anyone who would like to volunteer off the playing field and has ideas on how to improve the club for the local community.

 

Developments off the pitch are just an important, from working to improve how the club is run from an administration point of view, to having a team that work tirelessly to improve the Green and make it a place everyone who lives in Bearsted, and visits, can be proud of.

 

With the help of a strong core of volunteers, and the work of Simon the Groundsman and Facilities Manager, they have been able to maintain and make some substantial improvements to the Green, making it safer and providing a place for higher quality cricket for all ages and abilities – as well as making it a much more appealing visual spectacle for residents and visitors alike. In addition to this, many of our readers might have been aware about the unfortunate situation with Hollingbourne Cricket Club having to cease playing. Thankfully, Bearsted Cricket Club was willing and able to help and has been able to maintain the game of cricket in Hollingbourne, but now under the Bearsted CC banner. This not only allowed those playing to continue their cricket but provides further opportunities to develop the club as a whole and for more people.

 

Speaking on the developments at Bearsted CC and Hollingbourne CC, David explained that it’s not out of the realms of possibility for that to happen to any club adding:

“After what will be 275 years of documented and continuous cricket in Bearsted in 2024, what we didn’t want to see during our stewardship of the club, was a period of decline, so we have focussed on structure and strength with in the club, with a desire to make it a safe, inclusive and ever improving place for people to enjoy coming, develop their skills, play cricket and feel part of something at the centre of the local community. We know what we are, we are a village cricket club at the heart of one of, if not the, most picturesque Kent villages, and we aspire to be the best Kent village club we can be, for the players and the community.”

 

With 2024 being the 275th anniversary of the club, it’s wonderful to see Bearsted CC in an promising position for the future of village cricket, and they are currently preparing for the celebrations with some exciting projects planned such as inviting some cricketing royalty to do some speaking, a dinner event, some unique merchandise and other exciting developments to recognise and celebrate the incredible achievement and history of the community-focused club.

 

To keep up to date with fixtures, results and find out how to join the club, from a playing, coaching, socialising and volunteering point of view, make your way over to www.bearstedcricketclub.co.uk.

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